Talk by Catherine Hartley - Developing behavioral flexibility

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Throughout our lives, we rapidly acquire knowledge through experience. This knowledge is structured — it reflects regularities in our environments such as sequential relations between events, contingencies between actions and outcomes, and similarities across contexts. Across development, we exploit this structure to support the flexible pursuit of valued outcomes. In this talk, I will present studies examining at the cognitive, neural, and computational levels how the learning, memory, and decision-making processes that support or constrain adaptive behavioral flexibility change over the course of development from childhood to adulthood. I will show that development confers marked changes in the cognitive representations engaged during learning and discuss how these changes may optimize behavior for an individual’s developmental stage.